Residents criticize plan to build homeless facility in Laurel

Facility would replace mobile home park

Opposition to a proposed homeless facility in Laurel appears to be growing.

Nearly 100 people attended a meeting about the plan Thursday night.

The Howard County Housing Commission has purchased the Beechcrest Mobile Home Park, along Route 1, for $1.6-million.

Planners say the site will provide affordable housing for 33 to 50 individuals who are homeless or low-income, along with a daytime resource center.

People who live nearby say they're worried about the potential for increased crime and drug use related to the new facility...

"This kind of stuff should be out there for the community you should be out here talking to us before the purchase," one man said.

"Look at me in my eyes. Would you go to a restaurant that only serves a chronically homeless shelter. And show me your receipt that you did that," added another woman who lives nearby.

Another problem with the plan – right now there are 38 families who live in the Beechcrest Mobile Home park; they will have to go.

"Next year I'm going to be the next homeless. Do you have something for me?" one resident asked.

County officials say they do -- relocation assistance is still being worked out.

Planners say background checks will keep violent and sex offenders out of the planned facility.  The hope is that improving conditions for the homeless, might improve the overall community as well.  "This is obviously a better solution for them. They're either in encampments, they're living in transitional housing, they're living in motels. It's a better solution for them," said Russ Snyder, CEO of Volunteers of America, Chesapeake, which would operate the facility.

Members of the Howard County Council are scheduled to vote on a portion of the plan's funding at their regular meeting on Monday night.

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